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Fellow Adjoint Douglas Gough and Fellow Juri Toomre have known one another since they were both graduate students in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge (UK) in the mid-1960s. At that time, Toomre was studying fluid dynamics and Gough was exploring astrophysics.
Gough’s first post doc (1966–1967) was at JILA with Fellows John Cox and Carl Hansen. With them, he developed a theory to explain the interaction of stellar convection with pulsation. At his next post doc (1967–1969) at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, Gough ran into Toomre again. This time, both worked in the same group on exploring how the theory of convection in fluids might apply to understanding the structure and dynamics of stars.
Two years later, Gough joined the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy in Cambridge as a member of the graduate staff. He spent a long and productive career at the institute and served as its director from 1999–2004 and as a professor in DAMTP. During his entire career, he has stayed in close contact with his close friend and collaborator Toomre.
In 1972–1973, Gough came to JILA to work with Toomre, who had joined CU’s Department of Astro-Geophysics and become a member of JILA in 1971. The two researchers collaborated on a simulation of how ocean (i.e., salt water) convection involves both heat and salt transport. Gough soon began exploring whether what they’d learned could be applied to studying convection in stars, which are composed mainly of hydrogen and helium. He hypothesized that the frequency of the Sun’s oscillations could provide clues to its internal structure and motions. In developing techniques to determine whether they were correct, Gough and Toomre consulted seismologists, who were already using sound waves to figure out the internal structure and motions of the Earth. By 1975, Gough realized that it was likely scientists would be able to deduce the internal structure of the Sun by studying its oscillations. Thus the brand new field of helioseismology was born in the same year Toomre became a JILA Fellow.
Gough continued to collaborate with Toomre during regular visits to JILA. The publication of a theory paper in the late 1970s led to an additional collaboration with Jack Harvey at Boulder’s High Altitude Observatory. By 1984, the helioseismology field was exploding as observations of the Sun confirmed the basic tenets of the new theory. By then, Gough was focusing on the internal structure and basic physics of the Sun. For his part, Toomre was exploring the motions inside the Sun and a fundamental theory of convection. These were exciting times for the two researchers. In 1986, JILA formally recognized the long-term relationship between Gough and Toomre by making Gough an Adjoint Fellow of JILA.
“By the mid-1980s, I started thinking about applying helioseismology to other stars,” Gough recalls. “And, I’ve dabbled in asteroseismology ever since.” However, Gough says that things work slightly differently in different types of stars. The challenge is interpreting the oscillations of different stars correctly so that they reflect the correct internal structures.
Gough continues his theoretical studies of asteroseismology even though he retired from the University of Cambridge in 2008. And, he is still coming to JILA every summer to collaborate with Toomre and his colleagues, whose recent simulations include other Sun-like stars at different points in their evolution. While Gough was here this past summer, he stopped by the JILA Light & Matter office to reflect on his long-term association with Toomre and JILA.
He told a delightful story of becoming a Mousquetaire d’Armagnac at a surprise induction ceremony at Chateau de Mons in France in 2001. (The Musketeers had reformed as a group early in the 20th Century after having been disbanded during the French Revolution.) Gough had intended to be at JILA at the time of the induction ceremony, but Toomre had told Gough not to come then because he (Toomre) might be at a conference (even though there wasn’t one scheduled).
“I didn’t know anything about the ceremony until I was handed a boarding pass, and my wife directed me to the chateau after we landed,” he recalls. “When I saw Juri sitting there, I suddenly knew why he’d been so unfriendly about my travel plans.”
Luckily, they got that all straightened out because Gough plans to be back at JILA for the 50th Anniversary celebration in mid-July 2012. “I wouldn’t miss it!” he says.